A recent report by the International Organisation of Industrial and Service Cooperatives (CICOPA) has revealed that industrial and service co-operatives employ three million people around the world. CICOPA includes 65,000 affiliated enterprises, 95% of which are small and medium-sized.
The report, based on figures from 2013-2014, highlights that while a substantial proportion of co-operatives in industry and services are experiencing a very high growth rate in terms of the number of ventures and jobs, others continue to face barriers due to the economic or policy environment in which they find themselves.
Moreover, worker co-operatives, social co-operatives and co-operatives of self-employed producers in industry and services together employ over 16 million people worldwide. The majority of them are worker owners, which means that they also jointly and democratically control the enterprise.
CICOPA includes members from Europe (81.98%), Asia (8.78), South America (8.93%) and North America (0.32%). Of these, 11 organisations from Europe, Asia and South America are networks of co-operatives that provide employment for disadvantaged people, such as people with disabilities, the elderly, unemployed, ex-convicts or immigrants. Around 89% of them are also members of their co-operatives, which plays an important role in their integration. Overall more than 3,000 co-operatives employ disadvantaged workers.
Co-operatives are active in a number of industries, including retail (17.8%), transport 8.2%, board and lodging (7.1%), education (12.3%), arts (5.2%), health and social services (16.1%), administrative services (10.1%) and information and communication (3.8%).
Certain states have witnessed more growth in the number of co-operatives than others. In France, CICOPA member CG Scop, the national organisation for worker co-operatives, registered 263 new co-operatives in 2013 and 280 in 2014. The co-operative model has also been used by workers trying to save their enterprises from bankruptcy, with 50 successful transitions into employee ownership, which helped save 1,000 jobs in 2013 and 2014.
Spain, which has over 17,000 worker co-operatives with 235,000 workers, also witnessed an increase in the number of co-operatives, with 4,000 new co-ops created in the last four years. This has helped generate 30,000 new jobs in spite of the country’s economic crisis. Only 10% of worker co-operatives have closed down, as opposed to 20% of other enterprises.
Another member of CICOPA, KFWC of South Korea, said that a new enabling legislation had led to the creation of 148 new worker co-operatives in the 18 months prior to February 2014. Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina have also seen a growth in terms of worker take-overs.
In this article
- Consumer cooperative
- Housing cooperative
- International Organisation of Industrial and Service Cooperatives
- North America
- Social Services
- South America
- South Korea
- Worker cooperative
- North America
- United Kingdom
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